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Poll: How should St. Louis County invest Prop A funds to expand public transit infrastructure?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

In April 2010 voters in St. Louis County approved a transit sales tax, Prop A:

The sales tax is expected to generate about $75 million a year in St. Louis County, which will be used to restore lost service and expand MetroLink and bus rapid transit. Metro officials said passage of the measure also would trigger collection of a transit sales tax that voters in the city of St. Louis approved in 1997. (stltoday.com)

I’m not sure how much St. Louis County is putting toward operations versus holding back for future transit infrastructure. Regardless of the exact amount, having a discussion about where & how to expand transit is beneficial.

Light rail? Bus Rapid Transit? More regular bus routes?

The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. In the poll someone’s answer was dismissive because the north-south MetroLink wasn’t an option. The north & south MetroLink were planned to go from downtown and end on Goodfellow & S. Broadway, respectively. St. Louis County will not use their tax money to build transit located within the City of St. Louis.

    • dempster holland says:

      But the north-south light rail will be much more useful if it extends into north and south
      county. This should be the first priority if extended into north and south county and then
      the westport line should be built. Politically, all three should be put in a first phase with
      some work starting on each line at the same time. But the way planning seems to be
      going, it looks like no one is planning any light rail lines, and Greenway appears to
      be taking up some of the right of way on the westport line and on one of the possible
      light rail extensions into south county

  2. backprop says:

    I don’t think a new Metro line is viable at this point. Too many opposing forces in this economy, too much politics going on, and the chances of a catastrophic cost overrun are too high. Metro is not out of the woods from Cross County yet.

    I see BRT as a dead end. In most places where BRT exists, it’s a watered down disaster. In St. Louis it won’t involve anything beyond more expensive rolling stock and some infrastructure improvements on the few routes that BRT gets instituted. It will not attract new ridership, instead serving riders who ride the bus already.

    Rather than pour money into a few BRT lines in order to try to convince a few people along the route that they’re somehow not buses, I vote for a mix of improved bus service with services like Wi-Fi, electronic tracking and reporting to mobile devices, and more frequent headways.

    Combine those with removing about 30% of bus stops to make the routes more efficient.

    In short, we need to work on convincing people in this car-centric city that bus service in and of itself is viable. We don’t need a segregated bus system that the “haves” can ride that is trying really hard to be different from the buses that the “have nots” are stuck with. In the end, they’re all just bus rides. Make them all attractive.

    • I too think more frequent headways (aka frequency) would greatly improve transit viability in St. Louis County. I also like the idea of improving stops, as well as access to them. For me, in a wheelchair, there are many places in St. Louis County I simply can’t visit via the bus because of a lack of sidewalks.

  3. JZ71 says:

    One, the biggest problem with transit service in the county is the assumption that everyone wants to go downtown. Just look at Metro’s route map – http://www.metrostlouis.org/Libraries/System_Map_PDFs/MO_System_Map.pdf – it shows most service radiating out of downtown. If you want to go from Fenton to Chesterfield, or from St. Ann to Affton, there are no good options. Institute a grid-based route structure, with timed transfers at major intersecting points / nodes.

    Two, focus on service delivery, not the latest technology du jour (streetcars, BRT, light rail, etc.) Define what you’re trying to accomplish, then define the best, most-cost-effective way to deliver that service. Does it make more sense to replace an existing bus route with a shiny new streetcar if it runs no more frequently? Or, would it make more sense to spend the spend the same money to double, or even triple, existing service with just plain old buses? Do riders want a nicer / more-hipster vehicle? Or do they just want to get from Point A to Point B more quickly? Without having to worry about a schedule? Because the bus comes by every 5 minutes, instead of every 15 or 20 minutes?

    Three, look at demand-responsive service in low-density suburban areas instead of fixed bus routes. Other areas around the country use small buses serving relatively small, defined areas where the drivers have cell phones and riders call the driver directly to arrange a pick-up. Sure, it costs more on a per-ride / per-rider basis, but it usually costs far less than running fixed routes that few people choose to ride, and allows fixed-route service to remain on busier corridors where they can provide more direct service.

    Four, simplify the fare structure. Why charge extra for transfers or for trips on rail? The goal is to get from Point A to Point B. If you can take a direct trip, great. But if you need to transfer, because there simply are no direct options, why should you have to pay extra, pay a premium? It’s not a premium trip – if anything, the direct trip is the premium experience!

    I can go on, but I won’t. Bottom line, there are many options, but the current focus on big-bucks projects along existing corridors is counter-productive. The goal needs to be moving as many people as efficiently as possible, using the right tools to solve each problem most effectively.

    • The hub & spoke setup is common among cities based on how they developed and the history of public transit. Chicago, for example, has the same issue. Today many have a suburb to suburb commute. But decentralization of residences, workplaces, & shopping make trying to connect these inefficient. Clayton to Westport, makes some sense though.

      • JZ71 says:

        Just because it’s common or historic is no reason for it (or anything else) to remain unchanged, especially in a region like ours, where both housing and employment patterns have changed, significantly, over the past 50-60 years. While it may be “inefficient” to try and provide suburb-to-suburb cionnections, it IS where much of the unmet demand is today! And while Chicago’s rail transit remains very much of a hub-and-spoke system, it’s bus system operates much more on a grid system (which also reflects how the city grew) than ours does: http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/brochures/ctaSystemMapBrochure.pdf . . The same goes for LA: http://media.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/System_Map.pdf

        • Agreed, I think a discussion needs to take place around transit needs in St. Louis County. That’s mostly why I did this post/poll, to kick start that conversation. We do know that public transit use & support (voters) is strongest in north county, but I’m not entirely sure why. Higher percentage of African-Americans? More/better routes currently?

          • JZ71 says:

            I’d guess that lower per capita incomes in north county “encourages” more transit use – supply reflects actual demand and usage . . . . and from RTD’s Throwback Thursday: “RTD stopped using an outmoded radial system that maintained the historic routes of the old streetcars on September 5, 1978. It went to a new “grid” system emphasizing north-south and east-west mobility along arterial streets with timed transfers for quicker movement and increased efficiency for the bus routes.” http://www.rtd-fastracks.com/cc_48


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